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Agata Panucci on Creating Footwear "Fairy Worlds"

You might stumble across Agata Panucci's Instagram thanks to her fire 'fits, but if one thing's for sure, you'll stay for her otherworldly footwear designs. Residing in Milan, Panucci is currently one of the hardest working footwear designers on the scene, who spends her days lending her creativity to design agency RAL7000STUDIO, while also creating for herself.

Transporting people away from daily life through her design work is one of Panucci's biggest motivations when it comes to creativity, or as Panucci says in her own words, to her "fairy world." Classically trained in fashion design with a degree to back it up, for Panucci, design always comes first. While she wasn't always a self-proclaimed sneaker obsessive, she's found that the world of sneakers is the perfect nesting ground to unleash her ideas and has already ticked off commissioned projects with brands like adidas.

Agata Panucci, Footwear Designer, New Balance, Milan, Interview
Agata Panucci, Footwear Designer, New Balance, Milan, Interview

Keeping it real, Panucci admittedly doesn't have an exact recipe for how she was able to successfully turn her pastime into her day job, but as she mentions, being willing to learn and having the courage to share your work online never goes astray.

In our latest installment of Baes with Kicks, we caught up with Panucci to hear more about how she began her career as a professional footwear designer and how she keeps the passion alive in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Name: Agata Panucci
City: Milan
Occupation: Footwear designer

Agata Panucci, Footwear Designer, New Balance, Milan, Interview
Agata Panucci, Footwear Designer, New Balance, Milan, Interview


What's your relationship with sneakers? Do you have a favorite pair?

My relationship with sneakers is definitely a 360° passion. I spend almost all my time talking about sneakers, designing sneakers, looking for sneakers, but actually it's a pretty recent passion. Everything started six years ago with my first internship in a shoe company based in a well-known shoe district in the middle of Italy, a region called Marche. You are surrounded by shoe factories, leather suppliers, sole suppliers – it was love at first sight! I don't have a favorite pair, but right now I'm obsessed with my gold Puma x Ottolinger Mostro boots.

What would you say came first, your love of sneakers or design?

For me the design comes first because I studied fashion design and all of the the work behind a project is really important to me. 

Agata Panucci, Footwear Designer, New Balance, Milan, Interview
Agata Panucci, Footwear Designer, New Balance, Milan, Interview


How did you first get into sneaker customization?

It came pretty naturally. I wanted something more me, more Agata. At the beginning it was mostly a fun game but then after a while opportunities came along and everything became more real. 

In addition to your personal passion, you're also a full time footwear designer. How did you turn your passion into your day job?

This is a hard question! I believe consistency and patience have played an important role in my journey, although I lose those attributes every now and then. I used to work as a designer during the day and spent the night working on my customs. I still do it sometimes actually!

Agata Panucci, Footwear Designer, New Balance, Milan, Interview
Agata Panucci, Footwear Designer, New Balance, Milan, Interview


What advice do you have for others hoping to do the same?

Work hard and believe in yourself! Sometimes it's not that simple, I know, but trust your gut. I am still working on myself, too. Learn as much as you can, make stuff as much as you can but mostly, enjoy the journey. Watch some tutorials, educate yourself and post your stuff online to get some feedback.

You've have so many amazing personal projects, like the New Balance for Foot Locker and your customized adidas boots. Talk us through this creation and the inspiration behind them.

Behind all my projects there is always my personal vision. I like to transport people into my fairy world. I want people to see something and think, "This is Agata!" The inspiration is always the same: my fairy vision of the world, reimagined each time in a new way. Also, I am a huge fan of Sex and The City, The Nanny, Sailor Moon and Bratz – in some ways you can see it in my works and in my outfits. 

Agata Panucci, Footwear Designer, New Balance, Milan, Interview
Agata Panucci, Footwear Designer, New Balance, Milan, Interview


What are you most looking forward to in sneakers this year?

More products for us! I think we are finally changing the game step by step and I can't wait to see what's next. It's just the beginning of the year but I'm already seeing really cool stuff. 

Do you have more commissioned projects in the works? What are you currently working on?

Actually no, I don't have a commissioned project at the moment. But I do have some personal projects going on. Sometimes it's not easy to combine work, customization, social life and migraines but I'm working on it and I hope to show them to you asap!